Thu | Jul 19, 2018

Immigratin Corner | When can mom file for me?

Published:Tuesday | October 25, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

My mother is a permanent resident in the United States (US). January 2017 will make five years of her being a permanent resident there. What can she do in order to start the filing process for her children here in Jamaica?

- S.B.

Dear S.B.,

As a permanent resident, your mother is eligible to file for a husband and her unmarried children. Many people are under the mistaken impression that only US citizens can file for family members to become permanent residents.

Depending on who filed for your mother, she could have had derivative beneficiaries accompany her to the US. If one of your grandparents filed for your mother, or if a sibling had filed for your mother, her under 21-year-old children could have accompanied her on her petition. If the filing was done by a US citizen grandparent, a husband would have also been able to accompany your mother. If a spouse filed for your mother, and that marriage took place before her children were 18 years of age, those children could have been filed for on a separate petition by a US citizen spouse; or have accompanied your mother if her spouse was himself a permanent resident.

The fact is that from the moment your mother became a permanent resident (by her entry into the States if she was consular processed), she was eligible to file for her qualifying family - spouse and unmarried sons and daughters. She should immediately file petitions for her qualifying relatives and also apply for US citizenship. You indicated that next January she will have been living in the US as a permanent resident for five years. She is eligible to apply to become a US citizen 90 days before her five-year anniversary. Once she becomes a US citizen, she can upgrade the petitions she filed as a permanent resident and keep the same priority dates.

- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal and personal injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida.